1. Satan’s NamesRelated Media
What are Satan’s names and titles? By considering his names, we learn much about his character and tactics.
In Matthew 4:10, Jesus said: “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” Satan means adversary, enemy, or opposer. It is the name most often used of the devil in Scripture. It is used eighteen times in the Old Testament and thirty-six times in the New Testament.1 It reminds us of the fact that Satan hates God and his people, and he works feverishly to obstruct or destroy all things that have to do with God, including keeping people from coming to him. He is an opposer in every sense of the word.
In Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul said, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger. Do not give the devil an opportunity.” The title “devil” means slanderer. It is the second most used name of Satan in Scripture. It is used thirty-four times in the New Testament to refer to him.2 Devil is an apt name for Satan since slandering others is a major aspect of his character. In Genesis 3, he slandered God to Eve by implying that God was keeping the best from her. He said if she ate of the tree, she would not die but instead be like God. In Job 1, he slandered Job to God by saying that Job only followed God because God blessed him. Satan, likewise, slanders God’s and others’ motives to us and will even slander us to ourselves. He is a condemner who provokes anger, division, discouragement, and depression through his slander.
3. Evil One
In 1 John 5:19, John says, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Evil one is the third most used named of Satan.3 It represents his nature. He has no mixed motives or works. They are evil to the core. If it were not for God limiting Satan’s works, his works would be even more heinous (cf. Job 1:12, 2:6, 1 Cor 10:13). The evil one stands in contrast with God, who is absolutely holy and pure in thought and action.
4. Father of Lies
In John 8:44, Christ said this about Satan: “…Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” Satan lied when he tempted Eve to sin, which thrust the world into destruction. He continues to lie today. He lies about God, creation, himself, and people. Since he is the ruler of this world, the world-system is based on lies. World cultures often have perverted views on what is beautiful, ugly, righteous, evil, and successful. Since the system is based on lies, it leads people to destruction, even as it led Adam and Eve and the rest of creation into destruction.
5. Ruler of this World and God of this Age
In John 14:30, Christ said, “I will not speak with you much longer, for the ruler of this world is coming.” In 1 John 5:19, John said, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Likewise, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul said, “among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” Satan is called the “ruler of this world” and the “god of this age” (or god of this world in ESV). When Adam sinned in the garden, Satan usurped him as leader of this world and therefore this age. Therefore, when Satan tempted Christ by offering him the nations of this world, it was a legitimate offer (Matt 4:8-9). He is currently over this world and age. As the ruler of this world, Satan oversees a global system that is hostile to God and seeks to satisfy people apart from the true God. However, when Christ returns, he, as the perfect God/man, will rule the earth, and Satan will be judged (Rev 20).
This title was popularized by the KJV’s and NKJV’s rendering of Isaiah 14:12. In the NKJV, it says, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!” Lucifer might be best translated as “light bearer,” “day star,” or “morning star,” which probably represents Satan’s great glory before his fall. There is some argument of whether the title refers to the king of Babylon, who it was originally written about, or whether it refers to the evil power behind the king—Satan.
7. Ruler of the Kingdom of the Air
In Ephesians 2:2, Paul called Satan, “the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” Also, in Ephesians 6:12, Paul called the demons that Satan oversees “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” Therefore, if God and the holy angels dwell in the third heaven (cf. 2 Cor 12:2), then Satan being the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” and the one over the “forces of evil in the heavens” must refer to his rule of the first and second heaven—the earthly atmosphere and space, which includes the stars and planets. Apparently, after Adam’s original sin, Satan became the ruler of the earth (John 14:30) which included overseeing the first and second heaven. Therefore, some demonic angels have ruling functions in the heavenlies (cf. Eph 6:12) and some on earth (cf. Job 1:7, Dan 10:13-14, Rev 2:13, Matt 8:28). Certainly, Satan and his angels can still visit the third heaven, but their abode is under it (cf. Job 1:6-7).
8. The Tempter
Matthew 4:3 says this about Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, “The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.’” Satan is a tempter by nature. He tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the garden (Gen 3). He tempted Christ to not obey God’s will in the wilderness (Matt 4). He tempted Judas to deny Christ (Lk 22:3) and Ananias to lie about the amount of money he gained from selling his land (Acts 5:3). He tempts husbands and wives to be unfaithful in marriage (1 Cor 7:5). He tempts the nations to rebel against Christ (Rev 20:7-8). Satan is a tempter.
9. The Accuser of the Brothers (or Brothers and Sisters)
Revelation 12:10 says,
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the ruling authority of his Christ, have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, the one who accuses them day and night before our God, has been thrown down.
Likewise, Zechariah 3:1 says, “Next I saw Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.” Satan is an accuser. He accuses us before God; he accuses God to us and us to ourselves. This reminds us of Christ’s role as our advocate. In the court of heaven, Satan attacks us—declaring how bad our sins are—and Christ defends us based on his righteous life and death for our sins. First John 2:1 says, “(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One.” Christ is our advocate. He daily makes intercession before God on our behalf (Heb 7:25). Because of this, there is no longer any condemnation for believers (Rom 8:1). Satan may accuse, but his words have no power in the heavenly court because of Christ’s payment for our sins and intercession on our behalf. In Romans 8:31-34, Paul describes the wonderful benefits of Christ’s work on our behalf:
What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us.
10. The Dragon
Revelation 12:9 says, “So that huge dragon—the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world—was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him.” Several times in Revelation, Satan is called a dragon. This describes his ferociousness, as he persecutes the followers of God (Rev 12:13, 17).
11. The Serpent
In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul said, “But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Revelation 12:9 also calls him “the ancient serpent.” This pictures Satan’s guile and craftiness as it refers to how Satan originally appeared in the Garden of Eden as a serpent to trick Eve (Gen 3). Certainly, Satan is always trying to trick and deceive people today. His temptations often come in ways that initially appear harmless.
Matthew 12:24 says, “But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.’” When Christ cast out demons, the Pharisees declared that Christ could only do this by the power of Beelzebul. Beelzebul was an ancient Philistine god who was originally called Beelzebub, which means “the lord of the flies” (2 Kgs 1:2). Israel changed his name to Beelzebul to mock him, which means “the lord of dung.” In New Testament times, the name Beelzebul became a Jewish epithet for Satan—the ruler of demons.4 Revelation 12:4 says, “Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth.” Sometime after the creation of the heavens and the earth, Satan led a rebellion against God in which one-third of the angels followed Satan and therefore were cast out of heaven. Satan continues to rule over them now.
13. Belial (or Beliar)
Belial is a name that simply means worthlessness or wickedness.5 In the King James Version of the Old Testament, a person of worthless character was at times called a “son of belial” (Dt 13:13, Jdg 20:13, 1 Sam 2:12, 2 Sam 23:6, etc.). Belial was not a real person who fathered children but simply a title used to describe people characterized by evil and corruption.6 For example, 1 Samuel 2:12 (KJV) says, “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.” Other versions simply translate it as “scoundrels” (NIV), “worthless men” (ESV), or “wicked men” (NET). In the New Testament, the term is used one time to specifically refer to Satan.7 In 2 Corinthians 6:15, Paul said, “And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?” Satan is called Belial because his character is evil and wicked, and his acts are worthless.
As we consider Satan’s names and titles, we learn something about his character. He is an opposer, a slanderer, an accuser, a liar, a tempter, a ferocious dragon, and a deceptive serpent. He is the ruler of demons, the air, this world, and this age. He seeks to lead all in rebellion against God and his ways, even as he did Adam and Eve in the garden. We must at all times be aware of and on guard against him and his ways.
- What stood out most in the reading and why?
- What are some of Satan’s names in Scripture and what do they say about his character?
- How did Satan become the ruler of this world and how is his rule daily displayed?
- How have you experienced Satan’s accusations—about God, others, and yourself—and how do we conquer them?
- What other questions or applications did you take from the reading?
Copyright © 2021 Gregory Brown
Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.
All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.
BTG Publishing all rights reserved.
1 MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R. (Eds.). (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (p. 681). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
2 MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R. (Eds.). (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (p. 679). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
3 MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R. (Eds.). (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (p. 679). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
4 Accessed 11/16/20 from https://www.gotquestions.org/who-Beelzebub.html
5 Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (pp. 158–160). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.
Related Topics: Satanology